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Local government unions demand 5% worker pay increase

Unions have this week submitted a pay claim to local government leaders in an effort to narrow the growing gap between decreasing wages and the rising cost of living.

A statement from three unions, Unison, Unite and GMB – who represent more than 1.6 million local government workers in the UK – have called on their employers to move the lowest paid staff on to the real living wage of £8.45 an hour (or £9.75 in London).

They have also stated that all employees want to receive a pay rise of 5% following eight years of government pay restraint, which has seen wages either frozen or capped at 1% for public sector employees.

“Local government has the lowest paid workers in the public sector, and many council employees and their families are struggling to keep afloat,” said Unison head of local government Heather Wakefield. “With every price increase, their standard of living gets worse.

“New recruits and experienced staff are essential for the smooth running of services,” she added. “Yet poverty pay means local authorities are struggling to attract and hold on to staff, and those left are doing more for less.

“Theresa May needs to show the country she’s listening to the concerns of ordinary people by coming up with the cash to give dedicated public service workers a long overdue, decent pay rise.”

Unite national officer for local authorities Fiona Farmer also said that local government workers in waste, refuse, maintenance, schools and leisure had suffered from years of austerity with significant cuts to services, jobs and pay, and needed to have their efforts recognised with better pay.

“Theresa May and the employers need to recognise the loyalty local government workers have shown in the face of savage cuts and begin to address poverty pay by accepting this pay claim,” she argued.

And Rehana Azam, GMB national secretary, stated: “Enough is enough. Our vital and under-appreciated staff must get a pay rise of at least 5% to compensate for almost a decade of real-terms wage cuts. That is what they need and deserve.

“Last week’s election result was a clear vote for a new approach and against the running down of public services. It’s time for local government employers and Theresa May to listen.”

Local government employers have now responded by saying that they were currently consulting with councils in the next few weeks regarding the salary of its workers, although they were surprised that the unions were asking for such a large rise considering the difficult financial situation many authorities faced.

“We will be consulting with councils in the coming weeks on pay across the workforce and in particular how we can meet the challenge of the government’s proposed level of the National Living Wage over the next few years,” said Cllr Sian Timoney, chair of the National Employers at the LGA.  “The unions’ claim will form part of the consultation.

“We recognise that public sector workers have had lower than average pay awards for a few years now, but local government continues to face significant financial challenges so we are surprised that the unions are seeking such an ambitious pay award,” Cllr Timoney continued. “Local government has lost more than half a million jobs in recent years and meeting this claim would result in many more such job losses.”

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Roger T   19/06/2017 at 12:50

Oh wow, so those of us who saw our pension funds "raped" by Gordon Brown in 1997 so we are still working for peanuts in our 60s are expected to pick up the tab for the cosy public sector (where the trades unions are only alive now and paying for the Corbynistas) who feel that because 40% of the electorate trust a smarmy and dubious party leader it is open house on returning to the 70s? Okay, so you haven't had a good rise for years, but have you still got a job? Show me your bills and I'll introduce you to the self-employed who dare not up their process and haven't for years. Greed, greed and more greed and then you expect us to absorb the middle east as well. Pah!

Geoff Price   18/09/2017 at 12:19

Pay Rise? What about Pension Deductions! I note that in some local councils (who have always been considered part of Local Governance and had access to the Local Gov. Pension Scheme) have never offered a pensionable contribution. Now under under the Auto Enrolment into Pension Schemes they are offering the legal minimum contribution. 1% in year one, 2% in year two then rising to 3% thereafter. Some local councils are Labour Held and even have Trade Union Men in their fold. This a derisory pension offer and will see their employees work until they die before having a decent pension. Labour controlled local councils some with trade unionists in their fold are driving out employees to find other work. Austerity? No just Labour's excuse for penny pinching and keeping workers in an underclass situation when they age so they may vote Labour for a better pension. They are Victorian in there decisions and never represent working class people.

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